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Let Officer Jason Yasso keep Rosko!

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Geneseo Mayor Richard Hatheway announced Monday that the services of 5-year-old police dog ‘Rosko’ will be dropped in June, when the village’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget goes into effect.

Rosko’s presence on the force costs village taxpayers approximately $5,000 annually, an amount for which, in a tight budget year, “is hard to justify the cost effectiveness,” the mayor said.

In his three year career with the Geneseo Police Department, Rosko has been put onto 48 cases. However, 28 of those have been outside the jurisdiction of the village, so are deemed not to have benefited village taxpayers. In the past year in the village, Rosko was directly involved in only two arrests, the mayor noted.

One of the arrests involved drug sales. In the other, Rosko was instrumental in solving a rash of burglaries taking place at The Meadows.

Mayor Hatheway agreed that cutting the police department canine handling program is the most conspicuous service elimination in the 2012-13 budget.

Rosko’s handler, Officer Jason Yasso, will continue his other police duties, but will no longer be accompanied by Rosko.

Mayor Hatheway revealed that Rosko, as a soon-to-be surplus asset owned by the village, must be placed for auction to the highest bidder. Police dogs ordinarily have a five-to-eight year active career, between ages 2 and 10. Rosko, at age 5, theoretically has three-to-five good years ahead of him.

However, Geneseo Police Department inquires to other law enforcement agencies across the United States have thus far failed to turn up any interested buyer. Mayor Hatheway emphasized that Rosko is an asset of value for which the village must receive remuneration. However, Hatheway does not discount the possibility that Officer Yasso, who has kept Rosko as a pet in his home, could be the purchaser.

Rosko is a Belgian Malinois breed. His presence on the Geneseo police force was funded in part by grants from former state senator Dale Volker and Assemblyman Daniel Burling.

Rosko has been able to provide the Geneseo Police Department with valuable services including crime deterrence through foot patrols, building checks and searches, the latter minimizing danger to officers; working with the school in drug deterrence programs; public relations demonstrations; narcotic detection; tracking lost individuals; apprehending criminal suspects; conducting search and recovery for evidence; and officer protection.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department has canine services which will replace those currently being provided in Geneseo by Rosko.

Budget at 3.76 percent cap

The 2012-13 budget which has eliminated the village’s canine handling program has a maximum allowed 3.76 percent increase in the local tax levy. (This is the governor’s required two percent cap adjusted upward to allow for certain pension and debt increases. However, state law allows this amount to be overridden by a 60 percent ‘supermajority’ vote, which on the five member village board is no different than a simple 3-vote majority.)

The tax rate will increase by 2.6 percent, increasing in absolute terms by 16 cents.

Thirteen percent of all taxes collected go towards ever-increasing retirement fund costs — an amount to which every person in the village is now contributing $23.40 every year.

Also slated for increase, for a second consecutive year, is the village water budget. Last year’s rise of 15 cents per 100 cubic feet will be supplemented with a 20 cent increase, bringing the unit 100 cubic foot cost to $2.35 and making the minimal quarterly charge $23.50 — an amount still well below the regional average, Mayor Hatheway notes.

Hatheway stated that the water increase is necessary due to the overlapping of old, about-to-expire capital project debt and new debt related to the Wadsworth-Court streets project — an occurrence unique to this year only.

The water increase translates into an additional annual charge of about $8 for each resident of Geneseo.

For the second year in a row, the sewer budget will remain unchanged. The quarterly charge will persist at $55.

Starting June 1, the village will contribute to the revenue side of its budget equation with increases in building fees mirroring those already adopted by the Town of Geneseo. The cost of all inspections and permits go up, most increasing 25-to-35 percent above their current amounts. However, single family building permit fees will increase from $45 to $75, and demolition fees will jump from $125 to $300 for interior demolitions and $400 for exterior demolitions.

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